Praise & Worship: January 31st, 2014

Song List

1.  Your Majesty-  Aaron Shust

2.  The Silence Of God-  Andrew Peterson

3.  Speechless-  The Band Justus

4.  Your Great Name-  Natalie Grant

5.  The Dry Bones Dance-  Mark Heard

6.  Resurrection-  Nicol Spongberg

7.  This Little Light Of Mine-  Addison Road

8.  Spirit Wind-  Casting Crowns

9.  Overcome-  Jeremy Camp

10.  You Are I Am-  Mercy Me

11.  Blessings-  Laura Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research Links Severe Mental Illness And Substance Use

 

Taken from the  Huffington Post  which can be found   HERE.

New data linking severe mental illness and substance use could lead to more effective and streamlined treatment options for clinicians and patients, according to a leading expert in psychiatry and addiction issues.

The Washington University School of Medicine St. Louis and the University of Southern California jointly conducted a study of nearly 20,000 individuals, 9,142 of which were diagnosed with severe psychotic illnesses, collected over a five-year period. The findings were published online earlier this month in JAMA Psychiatry.

“What we are learning is that this overlap of mental illness with addictive disorders is not random,” said the National Institute on Drug Abuse Deputy Director Wilson Compton. The organization, part of the National Institute for Heath, provided the funding for the study.

Researchers looked at the nicotine, alcohol, marijuana and recreational drug use in mentally healthy test subjects and psychiatric patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder. The study found that 30 percent of those with a severe mental illness engaged in binge drinking (four servings of alcohol or more), compared to 8 percent in the mentally healthy population.

The results for smoking and marijuana were much higher. More than 75 percent of those with severe mental illness were heavy smokers and 50 percent were heavy marijuana users. In the mentally healthy population, only 33 percent were heavy smokers and 18 percent were heavy marijuana users. While it is not yet known why the simultaneous occurrence exists, Compton said the findings do much in the way of helping both patients and doctors.

“We can use the fact that [mental illness and addictive disorders] go together to better reorganize our treatment centers to both address the mental illness and the substance issues,” he explained.

Clinicians have long suspected the co-occurrence of mental illness and substance use and even documented comorbidity—the concurrence of two disorders in one individual—in past studies. However, Compton described these new findings as a “wake-up call.”

“This kind of work is particularly important for the psychiatric community and treating clinicians,” Compton said. “For far too long psychiatry has ignored the problems related to substances while they focused on the mental illness of their patients.”

Establishing what causes simultaneously occurring disorders or determining if one caused the other has eluded clinicians thus far for several reasons. One reason being that some drugs have side effects, such as hallucinogens, that can cause symptoms similar to that experienced in a psychotic illness, according to the NIDA website.

Further complicating the issue is that drugs are often prescribed to treat severe mental illnesses.

“Mental illnesses can lead to drug abuse,” according to the NIDA website. “Individuals with overt, mild, or even subclinical mental disorders may abuse drugs as a form of self-medication. For example, the use of tobacco products by patients with schizophrenia is believed to lessen the symptoms of the disease and improve cognition.”

Although the cause behind the link remains a mystery, the importance of documenting the existence of this link with hard data should not be underestimated.

“Putting this on the radar as such a huge problem in this population of people with severe mental illness will help us both with the clinical treatment of the comorbidity and it will also help us researchers begin to understand the overlap,” lead author for the article and Washington University researcher Sarah Hartz said.

The results from the study conclusively show with hard data that mental illness and substance use need to be studied and treated together, not as individual ailments, she said.

The study was a first of its kind due in part because of its size—finding nearly 10,000 psychiatric patients with severe psychotic illness was no small task—and secondly because an overwhelming majority of the sample group agreed to allow researchers to re-contact them for future studies.

Past studies had been completed with individuals diagnosed with milder cases of mental illnesses, but this new study confirmed that rates of substance use in those with severe mental illnesses is much higher than previously assumed, according to the article.

Researchers are now planning a second, more intensely focused study of 2,500 of the original research participants diagnosed with schizophrenia to further examine the role of genetics in comorbid illnesses.

“My patients come to me all the time and ask, ‘what can I do about it if it’s already written in my genes?’” USC researcher on the study Michelle Paton said. “I tell them, this is not about destiny; this is about risk. The better we understand what risks you have, the more appropriate treatment we can offer when you come to us.” If funding for the next study is secured, researchers will begin as early as March, Paton said.

Fully understanding the relationship between mental illness and substance use is particularly important when considering past studies on the mortality and causes of death in those afflicted by severe mental illness.

On average, persons with severe mental illness die as much as 25 years younger than the general population, Hartz said. “I think it is part of the stigma of mental illness that people in the general population think [the mentally ill] have a crazy, hard life and they die because they did something dangerous and that’s not true. [The mentally ill] die of the same things we all die of but they die much earlier due to substance use.”

Preventable medical illnesses, such as lung and cardiovascular disease or cancer attributed to cigarette smoking or heavy alcohol use, are a leading cause of premature death in those with severe mental illnesses. While anti-smoking campaigns have significantly reduced illnesses related to smoking in the general population, these efforts seemed to have missed society’s more vulnerable population, Hartz said.

Part of this is due to a misguided belief that forcing a person to quit smoking or another addictive behavior while undergoing treatment for their mental illness could further damage the person’s mental health.

“When people come in for severe mental illness, we need to also treat the substance abuse,” Hartz sad. “We can’t treat them independent from each other.”

Hartz added that the responsibility to inform patients falls back on the clinicians. “Clinicians need to have a frank discussion about how important it is to quit substance use and how quitting a substance won’t destabilize [the patient] psychiatrically,” Hartz said. “Aggressively talk to your patients. The first step and the most important step is to plant the seed.”

This dialogue between patients and doctors may be of particular importance in gender and ethnic sub-groups that typically have lower rates of substance use. “The most striking finding of this study was the evidence that societal-level protective effects do not extend to individuals with severe mental illness,” according to the published article.

Findings in the study showed that participants of Hispanic and Asian decent, who typically have lower rates of substance use in the general population compared to that of Caucasians, did not benefit from any protective effect.

The same was found true for women compared to men, where women usually have lower rates of substance use. “The protective effects of belonging to these groups did not carry over to individuals with severe psychotic disorder: the odds of substance use increased to mitigate the protective effects,” according to the article. “…This highlights the need for targeting substance use specifically among individuals with severe psychotic illness because protective influences may not carry over from the general population.”

Researchers don’t yet know why severe mental illness seems to be a great nullifier. “Could it be that a severe mental illness alienates you from your group?,” Hartz wondered. “Could it be that either the use of substances helps cause the mental illness—which then takes away the protective factor—or that developing a mental illness takes you away from your peer group, making you vulnerable?”

Whatever the answer, researchers now have a concrete start provided by the new data and a launching pad for future studies.

“The numbers speak louder than assumptions,” Paton said. “This study was to show people how important it is to justify assumptions with data. The striking thing in this study, we didn’t expect the numbers to be so powerful.”

Depression Help: Coping With Setbacks

 

Taken from every day health  which can be found   HERE.

Much of the time, Diane Carbo deals pretty well with her depression, but some days aren’t as good as others. For Carbo, a nurse in North Wales, Pa., depression symptoms return from time to time, especially during the winter when the weather turns cold and dreary. “I find myself struggling with sadness, tearfulness, and a lack of interest in doing things on those bad days,” Carbo says.

Carbo’s bad days are sometimes referred to as setbacks — common hurdles in depression treatment that can slow a patient’s progress, says David Blackburn, PhD, a psychologist at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas. Blackburn says he periodically gives his patients a list of depression symptoms, like excessive sleeping and crying spells, and asks them to check off the ones that they are experiencing.

“If they’re going along and the scores get lower, they’re going in the correct direction,” Blackburn says. “However, something may happen and their scores may start going back up. That’s a setback.”

Setbacks can cause a vicious cycle, Blackburn says, because they can often worsen a person’s depression symptoms. “They might get even more discouraged than they already are,” Blackburn explains. “They think, ‘Oh, I was doing so well, what happened?’”

Help for Setbacks

There are ways to overcome setbacks and move away from depression and toward wellness again. Try some of these strategies when you feel yourself slipping back into a depressed mood:

Use coping techniques. When Blackburn’s patients experience a setback, he tries to remind them of the strategies they learned earlier in the course of their depression treatment, like avoiding thoughts that tend toward the absolute — for example, telling yourself “I can never do anything right.” Blackburn also says that people with depression should try to take stressful events in stride

  • nd stop fixating on situations they have no influence over. “It’s important to recognize that you, as an individual, cannot control a situation or people in it,” Blackburn says. “The only thing you can control is how you respond.”
  • Improve dietary and exercise habits. If you take care of your body, you’ll feel better, both mentally and physically. Even a small amount of physical activity can improve a person’s outlook. A recent study found that sedentary behaviors, like watching TV and using the computer, are associated with an increased risk of depression. The hardest part, Blackburn says, is not the actual exercise, but becoming motivated enough to get started. “I go by the Nike commercial. Just do it,” Blackburn says. “You’ll feel better afterward.”

    Carbo agrees, and says her exercise routine can help lift her out of a bad mood. “I force myself to get up and go out and walk, even if it is at the mall,” she says. As for diet, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults eat at least two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables per day, as well as plenty of whole grains and low-fat dairy products, like milk. Blackburn says that patients should also take care to avoid “emotional eating” — taking in excessive amounts of unhealthy foods as a way of coping with stress. “It doesn’t solve the problem — it’s just a temporary fix,” Blackburn says.

    • Ask about adjusting your medication. If you’re on an antidepressant or other medicine for depression, sometimes setbacks can occur if the medication becomes less effective, Blackburn says. Sometimes, a simple switch is all that is needed to move forward. “The advantage is there are a number of medications that are available,” Blackburn says. “But it can be trial and error. Each person may react differently to different medications. You have to be patient, in other words.” If you feel that a medication problem may be causing your setback, consult the physician who originally prescribed it to you for suggestions.
    • Consider psychotherapy. If you’ve been managing your depression with medication alone, you may find that adding psychotherapy to your depression treatment regimen is beneficial. “Medication can improve your mood to the point where psychotherapy can be more successful,” Blackburn says. Therapy practitioners include psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and psychiatrists who, as medical doctors, can also prescribe and manage your depression medications.

    With a little patience and the understanding that depression symptoms can return from time to time, you can cope successfully with periodic episodes of depression.

The Tragic Story Of Senator Creigh Deeds And His Son Gus

Taken from   political ticker  which can be found  HERE.

Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds remembers his son as “a sensitive, beautiful child” who was “full of love,” but a severe mental illness led Austin “Gus” Deeds to do what his father now describes as the unthinkable. Gus, 24, stabbed his father multiple times before taking his own life.

“Whatever illness that took him was so contrary to his nature,” an anguished Deeds recounted in a candid, emotional interview with Anderson Cooper for CNN’s “AC360” just two months after his son’s death.

As Deeds got ready that fateful mid-November morning last year, he went out to the barn to feed the animals. He saw his son coming across the yard and recalls waving his hand and asking simply, “Hey bud, how’d you sleep?”

A second later, “I turned my back, and I took it twice in the back,” Deeds recalled the stabbing.

Deeds had been consumed with worry for his son but says he never had cause to believe his child would resort to violence.

Even as the brutal attack was underway, Deeds said he wasn’t aware of what was happening. He just could not believe his son was capable of nearly killing him.

“I said, ‘Gus, I love you so much.’ I said, ‘Don’t make it any worse than it already is, son,'” Deeds told CNN. “The first blow to my back was pretty close to a spot where he could have drawn a lot of blood…The second punctured a lung. There was a good bit of blood.”

“He could have killed me. No question about it,” Deeds said matter-of-factly. “He had that gun.”

At that point, Deeds prefers to think his son had a change of heart.

“I like to think that Gus, at some point in that attack, the old Gus came back,” Deeds said wistfully.

A father grows more and more worried

Not 24 hours before the brutal assault, which left a scar stretching across Deeds’ face, the state senator observed extremely troubling behavior in his son, a pattern that was on-again, off-again for months.

“Gus’ whole attitude, his delusions had taken over,” Deeds recalled. “Delusions of grandeur that he was a demi-god.” Gus’ delusions often took on religious overtones.

Even more worrisome, Deeds found references to guns in his son’s journal.

Deeds immediately sought and obtained an emergency custody order. As his son played the banjo in the family’s den, sheriff’s deputies showed up to enforce the order. Gus was not happy.

“He was surprised. He was frustrated,” Deeds said, but he had “no reason to believe there would be any violence.”

However, as the day wore on, Deeds said his son grew more upset.

Mental health professionals at the Community Services Board evaluated Gus Deed and determined that the boy was not suicidal, and Gus was released. Deeds says he was told there were no psychiatric beds in the area and that an individual could only be forcibly held for up to six hours under state law.

“I just had this sinking feeling Gus was going home with me, that they weren’t going to find a bed for him,” Deeds recalled, ominously.

Space was then found for Gus at a halfway house in Charlottesville, Virginia, but the troubled young man was still sent home for the night where it was thought he would get some rest and be more stable in the morning, Deeds recalled professionals telling him.

Creigh Deeds was alone with his son and worried, but he says he was focused more on getting his son help, despite pleadings from his family and from Gus’ mom who texted her ex-husband, “Get out of that house. Go to Lexington tonight.”

Deeds’ response: “I’ve got to stay with my son.”

Just two days before the attack, after reading his son’s journal and his mention of guns, Deeds said he disassembled his shotgun and got most of it out of the house, careful not to raise his son’s heightened suspicions.

He left behind a .22 caliber rifle, but no ammunition. Deeds still doesn’t know where his son got the one bullet that would end his life.

“Gus was just so bright. Maybe he had one squirreled away somewhere. I don’t know,” Deeds said.

Deeds sat at one end of his dining room eating a sandwich; Gus “writing furiously in his journal” at the other end, no interest in dinner.

“I don’t think he got much sleep that night,” Deeds said.

Determined to help others

“The system failed my son,” Deeds concluded. “He was very ill. He was obviously delusional. I mean, the system let him down. It’s inexcusable,” Deeds accused.

The Virginia state senator blames what he calls “nineteenth century” state laws and is determined to change those laws to help the mentally unstable, partly blaming the bad economy several years ago when, Deeds says, the additional money that was appropriated for mental health services in the wake of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech was “taken away.”

Creigh Deeds: ‘The system failed my son’

Over the years, Deeds said he tried to get his son to sign powers of attorney so he could get a sense of the medical situation Gus was facing.

“He never would. He was afraid of giving up control,” Deeds said with a slight laugh and a pause, seemingly aware of the irony.

Deeds says he knows that part of the law won’t change, but he is determined to get legislation passed that mandates an up-to-date database of psychiatric beds available in the state, this in the wake of reports showing there were, in fact, a handful of beds available to Gus Deeds that fateful night.

To find a bed now, Deeds says, basically involves a mental health professional “just calling around.”

Deeds has also introduced a bill that would mandate a 24-hour period during which a mental evaluation must occur. Right now in Virginia, it’s four hours with a two-hour extension, something Deeds is convinced hurt his son.

Tears streaming from his eyes, Deeds said emphatically, “I’m determined that something good must come from this. We cannot allow other individuals to suffer the way my son did.”

“He was everything you’d want in a son”

A talented musician, Gus Deeds first learned the trombone, but, said his father, when Santa Claus figured out that would not be perceived as cool with the ladies, Gus got a harmonica and taught himself to play. Then came the piano, the fiddle, the banjo, and guitar. There was hardly an instrument the young Deeds did not try. He was so good on harmonica, he once opened a show for legendary Bluegrass musician Ralph Stanley. He wrote “ditties” for each of his family members and composed major musical pieces in his spare time.

He was on his way to becoming a concert trombonist at The College of William and Mary.

“He was a deep thinker,” his father said, and he had a love of the outdoors. “He was almost the fish whisperer,” Deeds recounted with a glimmer in his eyes. “Gus could always catch a fish when others couldn’t.”

But still, Deeds recalled, his son never wanted to kill any living creature.

“He didn’t have the killing instinct…but he could shoot dead eye, dead on, either left or right (handed),” Deeds laughingly recalled.

Raised in the Baptist faith, Gus Deeds took an intense interest in religion and was something of a linguistics expert, as well.

Recalling the rush of events that led up to the November 19 attack, Deeds can point to no single, signature moment when he knew his talented, loving son was in deep trouble, but the landscape of his son’s life appears dotted with red flags.

Gus Deeds was a sensitive child, at times overly sensitive, his dad said, keeping track of rights and wrongs, but he blossomed as a teenager.

One seminal moment appears to be pegged to his father’s disastrous 2009 gubernatorial campaign in which he lost to Republican Bob McDonnell. Gus had taken a year off school to work alongside his father, and when his father lost, Creigh Deeds says he son “just went astray.”

He sat out another year of college and took a sudden road trip, not telling his family. When he returned, he had an almost “fanatical” interest in religion.

“He was noticeably different. He started making knives out of scrap metal,” Deeds recalled. His family began to worry.

In 2011, Gus Deeds lost his job and went to live with his father. For the first time, he admitted to his father that he had suicidal thoughts.

“The reading I’ve done, I’m convinced he was schizophrenic,” though Deeds has, to this day, not seen any official diagnosis.

Gus Deeds eventually returned to college in 2012 and appeared to be doing well, but in the spring of 2013 that all changed.

“When he came home, I thought he wasn’t taking his medication,” Deeds said, “But he wouldn’t tell me. He became a little more distant. A little less open.”

In the summer of 2013, returning to a job at nature camp, he started to withdraw even more.

“His ability to relate to people was basically restricted to the camp,” Deeds remembered. “He shut people off. He wouldn’t communicate with them.”

His medication he had been taking for most of his adult life appeared to stop working.

“He was suffering for a long, long time. At least he’s at peace now, but it’s a price to pay,” Deeds voice cracked with emotion, eyes filled with anguish.

And though it is just a short time since his son’s tragic death, Deeds says he must speak out now.

“Life goes on. Now there’s a little bit of focus on mental illness. If we can make a change that will save lives, we have to do it. I’ve got no choice,” a visibly exhausted Deeds concluded, voice brimming with emotion. “I’ve got to keep going.”

Depression: The Ripple Effect

Taken from  the Esperanza  archives  which can be found  HERE.

When Catherine M. began spending time with her future husband, she and James spent hours talking, going to the movies, taking weekend trips and getting to know one another. It didn’t take long for James to tell his new love that he had depression.

He’d been diagnosed long before the couple started dating in 1996, and assured her that he managed his depression through medication and regular counseling sessions.

“When he talked about his depression, I recognized his strength and his desire to get help,” recalls Catherine, a nurse in Vancouver, British Columbia. “He was in a stable place. His depression was under control.”

The couple married in 2003 and easily weathered James’s sporadic depressive episodes and mild symptoms. Then James fell into a deep depression last year after losing his father and his job. The dark mood not only robbed James of his spontaneous nature and passion for travel, but also stole the husband Catherine knew and the satisfactions of their shared activities.

“We lost all of the things we used to do together,” notes Catherine, 65. “Our life became much smaller. I was getting worn down and didn’t know how to cope. It affected him, me and our relationship.”

Research shows that when one member of a couple has depression, there is a significant impact on the well-being of the other partner. Research published in BMC Public Health in August 2010 found that spouses of those with mental illnesses, including depression, were more apt to exhibit signs of anxiety and depression themselves.

“Depression doesn’t just impact the person with the diagnosis, it impacts their [partner], too,” points out Lynne Knobloch-Fedders, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and director of research at The Family Institute at Northwestern University.

Research also points to depression’s impact on the relationship. For example, a two-year study of the association between marital discord and depressive symptoms, published in the journal Psychology and Aging in March 2009, found lower levels of marital satisfaction among spouses of people who were depressed.

A team approach works best when addressing dissatisfaction and conflict connected to one partner’s depression. Says Knobloch-Fedders, “It’s important not to think of depression as an individual problem but as both people’s problem. The research in this area is clear: When depression negatively affects the relationship, it is much more effective when both partners are involved in the treatment.”

Shared symptoms

It’s not uncommon for the partner of some- one with depression to mirror symptoms such as hopelessness, fatigue, anxiousness and low self-image, experts say.

“When the partner with depression suddenly switches from warm and loving to withdrawn and critical, the non-depressed partner tends to assume the change is somehow their fault,” explains Anne Sheffield, author of Depression Fallout: The Impact of Depression on Couples and What You Can Do to Preserve the Bond (Harper Paperbacks, 2003) and How You Can Survive When They’re Depressed: Living and Coping with Depression Fallout (Three Rivers Press, 1999).

“Unrewarded attempts to restore the relationship lead to demoralization and frustration,” Sheffield continues, and such feelings “might lead the non-depressed partner to give up—or fall into depression themselves.”

Sheffield has depression, as do her mother and daughter. She believes that individuals who love a person with depression may come to feel guilty because their love and support are not enough to heal the other person.

Jeanne H. experienced those feelings of powerlessness when her partner, Ana Maria K., started showing signs of depression last spring after a long-distance move to Seattle and prolonged job search. It was the first time Ana Maria’s depression had surfaced in their 13-year relationship.

“I feel so much guilt,” says Jeanne, 41, reflecting on her inability to make Ana Maria feel better and heal their relationship.

Jeanne wanted nothing more than to help her partner. She suggested long walks, outings to favorite restaurants and weekend escapes in hopes of lightening Ana Maria’s dark mood. Nothing worked.

As Ana Maria fell deeper into depression despite medication and regular counseling sessions, Jeanne took over household responsibilities that the couple once shared. She skipped workouts and declined social invitations in order to be at home in case Ana Maria needed her.

“I was doing all I could for her and it wasn’t helping,” Jeanne recalls. “It started to drag me down.”

It also dragged down their relationship. The couple spent less time together, their conversations were strained, and intimacy was out of the question.

Jeanne also felt guilty for wishing their relationship could return to normal.

“I told my therapist, ‘I’m not getting anything from this relationship,’ and then I felt horrible for admitting that,” she recalls.

Coping tools

Ana Maria made the difficult decision to move in with her parents as her depression worsened. Jeanne says their relationship “is in a crisis situation,” but they haven’t given up.

Jeanne and Ana Maria turned to counseling, together and individually, to cope with the fallout of Ana Maria’s depression. In their couples counseling sessions, the pair works on improving communication and rebuilding their intimate connection.

“[Couples counseling] can give partners the right language to talk to each other,” notes Dave Gallson, associate national executive director of the Mood Disorders Society of Canada. “A therapist can help both partners identify boundaries, set limits and talk about depression and its impact on the relationship in non-critical ways.”

As for her individual therapy, Jeanne believes the one-on-one support has been instrumental in helping her deal with feelings of guilt, rejection, fear and loneliness that arose in response to Ana Maria’s depression—and in giving her tools to respond to Ana Maria’s symptomatic behavior.

“I needed to figure out how to deal with things better,” she explains. “Now, if there’s a negative conversation, I stop and notice and realize that I have a choice in how I react. I’m more mindful, and it’s helped a lot.”

Learning more about the causes of depression, and the behavior and feelings that arise from the illness, is key for the partner without depression, says Anne Sheffield. She and other experts also laud the benefits of peer support available online and through mental health organizations and other groups.

“You need a place to share experiences with people who understand,” says Sheffield. “Support groups help you realize that you’re not alone, and can offer a great sense of security that there is a solution and you can get through this.”

That’s what helped Lisa G. after her husband, Fred, was diagnosed with depression in 2006. She felt overwhelmed by the emotional upheaval and practical responsibilities such as scheduling medical appointments, coordinating communication among his doctors, and filing insurance paperwork. At times her husband’s outlook was so bleak she had to write a list reminding him to bathe, eat and take his medication.

“For a long time, I wasn’t sure he was going to get better. The change was so dramatic and … I had no idea how to cope,” recalls Lisa, 52, a wellness coach from Branford, Connecticut.

Through the Family-to-Family program of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, she learned more about the nature of depression and how to navigate the challenges of living with someone who is depressed. She also met others who understood her grief and frustration, and shared tips on how to manage day-to-day.

“It was so helpful to know that I wasn’t alone,” she says, “that there were other people who were going through similar things.”

Fred, 57, still grapples with depression and his illness has been difficult on their marriage, but Lisa accepts the new challenges as part of their lifetime commitment to each other.

“Just because someone has a mental illness doesn’t mean it defines the relationship or the future,” she asserts. “It was something we didn’t plan and it’s been hard, but I’ll never give up on him.”

A team approach

Embracing a “we are in this together” attitude not only improves treatment outcomes for the person with depression, experts say, but can even make the relationship stronger.

“Both partners have to get educated about the disease and understand how it can impact the relationship,” says Gallson. “Depression can’t be addressed alone. One person cannot be the cure.”

Taking a team approach also may avert a phenomenon called “compassion fatigue,”  says Mitch Golant, PhD, a health psychologist and co-author of What to Do When Someone You Love is Depressed (Holt, 2007).

“The non-depressed partner will start to take on some of the hopelessness their partner is showing and will start to become depressed, critical and fatigued,” explains Golant. “To avoid this kind of burnout, it’s important to view depression as something to deal with together, not something to handle all alone.”

Jason S., 39, believes that even though his wife, Shelle, is the one with the diagnosis of depression, managing her illness is a shared responsibility.

“It’s not something I can fix, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be helpful,” explains Jason, who has known about Shelle’s depression since they started dating in 2006.

Jason takes cues from his wife, using humor or suggesting trips to the bookstore when she seems to need a pick-me-up, listening and offering advice when she is sharing frustrations, and canceling plans to spend a quiet night at home when Shelle has bouts of social anxiety.

Jason also attends medical appointments with Shelle, taking an active role in describing her symptoms to doctors and ensuring she follows treatment plans at home.

“It feels good for me to support her,” says Jason, an information technology professional from Little Rock, Arkansas. “[Shelle] has expressed to me that she appreciates me being there for her, and I think going through this together has made our relationship stronger.”

That attitude in a partner turns depression from a drain on the relationship into another source of connection, according to Knobloch-Fedders. When couples seek joint solutions—through couples counseling or other resources—they may improve the way they communicate, learn how to work together to address issues arising from the depression, and reaffirm their commitment to the relationship.

In turn, a body of research (surveyed in the July 2009 issue of Aging & Mental Health) suggests that better communication skills and joint problem-solving moderates risk factors for depression—ultimately reducing the stress that depressive episodes place on the relationship and the other person.

Catherine M. admits that her husband’s ongoing depression puts stress on her and their marriage. She’s careful to take time for herself and draws strength from close friends, but at times she’s reduced to tears by the situation. Still, she also sees a positive outcome.

“[His depression] has led us to have good conversations about his illness and our relationship, and we feel much closer when we have those conversations,” explains Catherine, adding, “Even when it’s difficult, I know that no one can make me laugh like he can and that’s a wonderful thing. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change my decision to marry him.”

—–
Jodi Helmer is a freelance writer in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her work has appeared in Shape, Women’s Health, Family Circle and other national magazines.

SIDEBAR: Resisting the ripples

When a partner is depressed, these tips from Families for Depression Awareness can help keep your own mental health in balance:

Remember it’s not your fault. Depression in your partner is a medical condition, not the result of something you said or did.

Recognize normal reactions. Along with compassion for your partner, don’t be surprised to feel frustration, anger, and even hatred. It is extremely difficult not to take symptoms such as withdrawal and irritability personally. Also common are resentment because your life has changed and grief because the person you love seems to be gone. Don’t be afraid to seek counseling to deal with your emotions.

Don’t be a martyr. No matter how hard it seems, be sure to schedule time for activities that you enjoy. If you are taking on extra responsibilities around the house or in overseeing your partner’s treatment, look for other family members, friends, or even service professionals (a housecleaner, for example) who can take on some tasks.

Find social support. Dealing with depression in a partner can be isolating. Make the effort to spend time with friends who are able to sympathize and provide emotional sustenance. Seek out peer support groups for families of people with depression.

Be part of the solution. Learning more about depression and how to provide useful support—as well as knowing what not to do—can improve treatment outcomes for your partner. The better your partner gets, the more pressure that takes off you and your relationship. Couples counseling helps address issues arising from the depression.

Have hope. You may feel rejected and discouraged when nothing you do to help your partner seems to work.  Keep in mind that depression is often cyclical—worse at times, easier to manage at others—and finding the right treatment may take time. And remember that 80 percent of people with depression improve with treatment.

 

Times Of Trial: Streams In The Desert, January 25th, 2014

Pray for the bloodshed to stop in Ukraine.

Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalms 23:4).

At my father’s house in the country there is a little closet in the chimney corner where are kept the canes and walking-sticks of several generations of our family. In my visits to the old house, when my father and I are going out for a walk, we often go to the cane closet, and pick out our sticks to suit the fancy of the occasion. In this I have frequently been reminded that the, Word of God is a staff.

During the war, when the season of discouragement and impending danger was upon us, the verse, “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord,” was a staff to walk with many dark days.

When death took away our child and left us almost heartbroken, I found another staff in the promise that “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

When in impaired health, I was exiled for a year, not knowing whether I should be permitted to return to my home and work again, I took with me this staff which never failed, “He knoweth the thoughts that he thinketh toward me, thoughts of peace and not of evil.”

In times of special danger or doubt, when human judgment has seemed to be set at naught, I have found it easy to go forward with this staff, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” And in emergencies, when there has seemed to be no adequate time for deliberation or for action, I have never found that this staff has failed me, “He that believeth shall not make haste.”
–Benjamin Vaughan Abbott, in The Outlook

“I had never known,” said Martin Luther’s wife, “what such and such things meant, in such and such psalms, such complaints and workings of spirit; I had never understood the practice of Christian duties, had not God brought me under some affliction.” It is very true that God’s rod is as the schoolmaster’s pointer to the child, pointing out the letter, that he may the better take notice of it; thus He pointeth out to us many good lessons which we should never otherwise have learned.
–Selected

“God always sends His staff with His rod.”

“Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deut.33:25).

Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes, and He will not send us out on any journey for which He does not equip us well.
–Mclaren

Praise & Worship: January 24th, 2014

Song List

1.  Cathedral Made Of People-  Downhere

2.  I’d Rather Have Jesus-  Cox Family With Alison Krauss

3.  A City On A Hill-  The City Harmonic

4.  Raised To Life-  Elevation Worship

5.  The Proof Of Your Love-  For King & Country

6.  Redeemed-  Big Daddy Weave

7.  I Will Love You-  Robert Pierre

8.  Sweet Cherry Wine-  Tommy James & The Shondells

9.  Take You Back-  Jeremy Camp

10.  I Still Believe-  The Call

11.  7×70-  Chris August